With temperatures dropping this week, Devon’s gritters will be in full force on the county road.
Road temperatures are expected to drop below -2C in some parts of Devon tonight and gritting trucks will be on all of the county’s primary salt routes from 6pm tonight.
The County Council is kicking off the season with its depots fully stocked with the usual amount of approximately 24,000 tons of salt.
Six gritters have been replaced with newer models to continue the ongoing upgrade of the winter fleet of 37 front-line spreaders.
As usual, three gritter drivers per route are on standby to make the occupancy rate resilient.
The County Council launched its new Network Operations Control Center in Sowton, Exeter, last year to improve surveillance of Devon’s roads 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The center enables remote monitoring of parts of Devon’s road network using CCTV, weather information, traffic and congestion data. It is also capable of controlling a range of intelligent transportation systems, such as variable message boards.
The systems in the control center are connected to the provincial network of weather stations for ice detection at strategic locations in the province. Three new locations were added ahead of this winter, expanding the network to a total of 38 stations.
Six of the existing stations have also been upgraded.
Councilor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet minister for highway management, said: “We always make sure our winter service operations are prepared and resilient, and this year is no different.
“We are starting the season with the usual amount of salt and the same number of gritters on standby. We have also continued to upgrade vehicles and equipment to keep Devon moving.
“The new control center has had a year to go to sleep because it uses up-to-date web-based systems. This allows our teams to have the flexibility to call on additional support from remote staff should the need arise.
“With an 8,000-mile road network, we have more roads to maintain than any authority in the country, so it’s impossible for us to cover every mile. Our teams are on hand to cover some 2,000 miles of Devon’s major roads on our primary and secondary salt network when required. And we saw last winter the vital supportive role our volunteer snowguards play in their local communities.”
Last winter about 18,000 tons of salt was used on Devon’s roads, covering more than 136,000 miles of the county. That is more than the average winter figure of some 13,000 tons of salt and twice as much as in each of the two previous winters.
More than 3,500 grit bins are located across Devon to support community self-help on roads that are not on the grit network. These supplies may only be used on public roads. Empty grit bins can be reported via the ‘Report it’ web pages of the municipality.
The Devon Volunteer Snow Guard Program celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year and there are currently about 325 volunteer snow guards in towns and parishes across Devon. Snowmen provide additional support to their communities as part of the council’s winter self-help program, covering their priority routes during periods of extended periods of severe weather.
Find out more about the Devon snow guard plan on the County Council web pages or contact Parish Council representatives who can contact their local Highway Highway Officer.
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